PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

Hope Sandoval's Quiet Rebellion Against the Music Industry

Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions, Isn't It True (Tendril Tales, 2016)

Absent from Instagram and Twitter and mostly uncommunicative to the press, listeners must wait patiently for the reclusive Hope Sandoval's return without any hints as to what she may bring.

During her 30 years in the music industry, Hope Sandoval has seldom ventured outside her self-made haven of secrecy. Notoriously shy onstage and averse to any kind of publicity, she has become somewhat of a musical enigma. In today's Internet culture of online curatorship, Sandoval is a cryptic muse of nonconformity and pure creative intention.

Since 1989, Sandoval has made up one half of duo Mazzy Star with David Roback, releasing albums in 1990, 1993, 1996 and 2013, and EPs in 2014 and 2018. In 2000, she collaborated with My Bloody Valentine drummer Colm Ó Cíosóig, and released solo work in 2001, 2010, 2016 and 2017 under Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions. After the vast success of Mazzy Star's "Fade into You" in 1994 (from So Tonight That I Might See), their notoriety infringed on Sandoval's withdrawn disposition. As they began to perform on more televised appearances, she was visibly self-conscious, hiding behind her flowing hair.

After their 1996 album, Among My Swan, Mazzy Star continued to produce music under Capitol records. Yet, Sandoval allegedly pleaded for the company to release their contract, stifled by the domineering influence of a large music label urging for a hasty and formulaic process. This imposed on the band's languid and organic style of writing music. Subsequent releases under Mazzy Star or the Warm Inventions were sporadic, reflecting Sandoval's desire to be free of external pressure.

With the rise of social media and digitised visual culture that have arisen over the last two decades, her seclusion endures. The majority of updates come from Sandoval's official website. Absent from Instagram and Twitter and mostly uncommunicative to the press, listeners must wait patiently for her return without hints of what that may bring. Sandoval only releases music when she feels like it. This unassuming approach does not account for the media's fascination in assessing the artist and her creative process.

Social media has served as a way to cultivate a sense of intimacy between artists and fans. Even as our interactions become better attuned to virtual platforms, however, this feeling of intimacy is still fabricated. There's an escalating pressure on artists to take part in showcasing their lives as an extension of their music. With the extensive connectivity amplified by social media, consumers might feel more entitled to such content. Sandoval, however, never amalgamated her private life with her craft. In music videos, she scarcely features, and she's often concealed in ghostly silhouettes and hazy video overlay. No contextualisation of whom or what her songs are about are surrendered, and she refuses to indulge in this aspect of celebrity culture.

Sandoval's aversion to public attention is most observable on stage. She is often shrouded in darkness and hidden behind her music stand. Phones and recording devices are strictly prohibited at every concert, and Sandoval seems often coldly unaware of the audience. After a few hushed words were uttered at a 2018 Philadelphia show for her tour with the Warm Inventions, an audience member begged, "Say something else!"

Despite Sandoval's wish to separate artist from art, it's hard not to see her reclusiveness as a perfect reflection of the wistful, dreamy music she creates. The sentimental, ambiguous lyrics are sung over distorted guitar twangs to a leisurely rhythm, encompassing the enigmatic energy she radiates. Sandoval most recently lent her vocals to "Big Boss Man" on Mercury Rev'sBobbie Gentry: The Delta Sweete Revisited in February 2019. Her ethereal, honey-soaked voice remains unchanged, a time capsule of dream-pop brilliance. She can lull anyone into an intoxicated state of dreamy nostalgia, but Hope Sandoval is pure punk in her defiance against conventionality.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.


Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.


The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.


Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.


How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.